So here it is, 2017. Hopefully it’s the start of a great year for you. Hopefully none of your favourite celebrities die (but statistically, some probably will). Hopefully if you’re living in Trump’s American or in Post-Brexit Britain, things aren’t too hard for you.
Typically of course, I’m most interested in how you actually say the name of this year. Is it “twenty seventeen,” or “two thousand and seventeen?” Or even “two thousand seventeen,” if you’re American. For me, there’s no hesitation: twenty seventeen is so easy and natural to say. Plus, it matches how we pronounce most years: treating the first two digits as one number, and the second two as another. But I can understand that people got into the two thousand and… habit during the first ten years of this millennium (or nine years if, like me, you want to be pedantic). I understand why we used that format between 2000 and 2009. “Twenty oh two” just sounds wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it definitely doesn’t have a good ring to it. Two thousand + one-/two-syllable number isn’t too much of a mouthful though, so it worked well for those years.
But once we got to 2010 (“twenty ten” has a lovely ring to it, doesn’t it?) I assumed we’d go back to the old format. Yet a lot of people even now still keep up the two thousand and… system. And I cringe a little when I hear it, because I’m pedantic and efficient. I’d get bored halfway through trying to pronounce all seven syllables of “two thousand and seventeen:” I don’t know how people manage it! So I implore you to go back to the simple way, if you haven’t already.
Not that it’s always so simple of course (Is English ever so?) It’s easy to say “just treat the year as two digit numbers,” but what about the first ten years of any decade? What about 1803, or 1608? When you think about it, it might seem strange to say “eighteen oh three,” but what would the alternative be? “Eighteen three?” That’d be too confusing, as it could be confused for 183 AD. So we make an exception for those years, which is confusing for learners, but makes sense overall. Anyway, however you choose to pronounce this year, have a good one!
P.S “Two thousand three?” I’m sorry my American readers, but I think dropping the and is simply unforgivably lazy!